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standing mo-vation Salah's the best in the world... Liverpool must swiftly end the debate surrounding his future

Mo is operating at a level Messi, Ronaldo and the rest of the world’s elite players are not touching right now

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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

MOHAMED Salah confirmed his status as the best player in the world at Vicarage Road yesterday – and now the debate over his future needs to end.

We have all eulogised about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the last decade and more and the pair deserved to be recognised as the best on the planet for their consistent brilliance.

Yet Salah is operating at a level Messi, Ronaldo and the rest of the world’s elite players are not touching right now and he is doing it with a level of consistency that has separated him from the rest.

His goal against Manchester City a couple of weeks back was a work of art and, remarkably, he might well have bettered it in Liverpool’s 5-0 win at Watford yesterday, as he produced a strike Messi in his prime would have been proud of.

This is a remarkable turnaround because I looked at Salah at times last season and wondered whether we had seen the best of him in Liverpool red.

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Mohamed Salah celebrates with Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino

Mohamed Salah celebrates with Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino

Mohamed Salah celebrates with Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino

He looked less than inspired at times and part of me wondered whether he had his sights set on a move away from the club.

Jurgen Klopp (right) needed to help his side click back into gear and get back into the mix for the Premier League title. Salah has done that in the grand manner.

That’s 10 goals in as many games for the Egyptian this season and if he had taken a few of the clear cut chances he has spurned (a crucial one at Brentford springs to mind), he would have another four or five by now.

Salah was in this kind of form in the 2017/18 season, when he scored 44 goals and fired Liverpool to the Champions League final.

Now he is at least back to that level and may even have taken it up a notch, so Liverpool’s owners need to end speculation over his future and get his contract issue sorted as soon as possible.

With the form he is in, it cannot be allowed to linger.

He will only have 18 months left on his current deal if a new agreement is not reached by January.

At that point, his agent will be sniffing around the elite clubs to see what offers might come in next summer.

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Paul Pogba has run his contract down to less than a year at Manchester United and I can guarantee he will leave on a free next summer and collect tens of millions for him and his agent in the process.

Liverpool’s can’t afford to allow that to happen with Salah because, as I said in these pages a few weeks back, the fans will not forgive the owners it they allow this maestro to leave.

Especially when he looks to be at the peak of his powers rather than a star’s who is on the wain.

There may be issues over other players having deals that means they get the same money as the top earner at Liverpool, and if Salah gets a massive pay rise they will want the same.

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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and James Milner celebrate

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and James Milner celebrate

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and James Milner celebrate

Yet it’s not often you have the best player in the world on your books and, as Liverpool have that right now, they have to make sure they keep him for the next four or five years.

The brilliance Salah is injecting into the Liverpool team is inspiring those around him and Klopp’s men made a massive statement with their thumping win at Vicarage Road yesterday.

I know it was only Watford and they were dreadful on Claudio Ranieri’s first day as their manager, but this Liverpool team are starting to purr now.

To win any Premier League away game by such a wide margin is a great achievement and the manner of their performance from first to last will send a shiver down the spine of their Premier League rivals.

Coming back off an international break that has seen players flying all over the world, and then struggling to get back amid Covid quarantine restrictions, this was a display of pure class at a venue that will have brought back jarring memories for Jurgen Klopp and his team.

The last time Liverpool played at Vicarage Road, it was just before the world locked down due to the virus, and Watford inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Klopp’s side that ended their hopes of an unbeaten Premier League season.

They went on to win the league comfortably, but that defeat at Watford highlighted a few flaws in Liverpool’s make-up that were exposed time and again during their mid-season slump at the start of 2021.

We put that run of poor form down to injuries and there is no doubt they played a big part, but the scale of their demise suggested something deeper was undermining this team.

Roll the clock forward a few months and they are unrecognisable from the side that lost six games in a row at Anfield.

The swagger is back and the arrogance all top sides need to thrive is evident.

It wasn’t just Salah on fire yesterday as Roberto Firmino will benefit from the hat-trick he scored and, while there could still be room for improvement for Sadio Mane, the key parts of this Liverpool team are in full working order again.

I said a few weeks back that any team finishing ahead of Manchester City this season will win the Premier League title and I stand by that.

On the evidence of what we have seen over the last few weeks, the team most likely to do just that are Klopp’s rampant Liverpool.

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